17 May 21

Global Fleet Conference: 10 supplier lessons for fleet customers

Where are we going? If you’re a fleet customer, it’s good to pay attention when fleet suppliers answer that question. And at last week’s Global Fleet Conference, they did. In three panel discussions, lease companies, OEMs, and tech providers put their cards on the table. Here are 10 key lessons.

Go to the Global Fleet Conference website to watch the Global Fleet Live Sessions and Regional Streams on-demand

1. Europe remains the focus for growth

Arval, ALD, Alphabet, and LeasePlan are global companies with global ambitions. “Asia-Pacific may be a growth region, and we’ve recently initiated a new cooperation in the US,” said Marco Lessacher (CEO, Alphabet). But for him and his colleagues, Europe remains the main focus for growth. 

2. But it shifts to other market segments

Tim Albertsen (CEO, ALD) pointed out that while full-service leasing remains important, the emphasis now shifts from large corporations to SMEs and private consumers. His colleagues echoed that statement, specifically mentioning not just B2C but also B2E – private leasing offered with corporate backing – as interesting options. 

3. Leasing will become even more flexible

Everybody’s talking about the advent of subscription and other flexible formulas, but as Bart Beckers (CCO, Arval) pointed out, “leasing already is a kind of subscription.” More flexibility will come, but it will come at a cost. Finding out how much flexibility you’re willing to pay for – that’ll be tomorrow’s journey of discovery.

4. Electrification will leave room for ICEs

Almost a quarter of this year’s orders are EVs, said one exec. “Once electrification starts, it ramps up really fast,” confirmed Berno Kleinherenbrink, the CCO of LeasePlan, which aims to have its entire fleet electrified by 2030. Each lessor has its own, more or less ambitious electrification targets. But there will remain use cases where ICEs, diesels mainly, will remain necessary for the foreseeable future, Mr Kleinherenbrink said.

5. The fleet market is rebounding, but it will be different

In the next panel, the three OEMs represented (Kia, Toyota, Skoda) all said they were either experiencing or expecting a strong market – and coping well with the semiconductor chip shortage currently plaguing the automotive industry. In overall terms, China is doing very well again, but the fleet segment is relatively small. So all eyes are on Europe and, to a lesser extent, North America. “There is scope for a major rebound, and for a major transformation,” said Miguel Fonseca (Senior VP, Toyota Motor Europe). 

6. Electrification is the driver for change

That transformation is multi-faceted, but its main component is electrification. All expect Europe to lead the process of electrification. “BEV cost continues to decline and the range and charging issues improve, while ICEs will become less and less attractive,” said Martin Jahn (Board Member, Skoda), predicting we’ll soon hit the tipping point where people will massively prefer electric over fossil. 

7. Don’t write off the company car

Corporate mobility will be increasingly flexible, electric, and connected. But don’t write off the ‘classic’ company car just yet, said Martin Howlett (Head of Corporate Sales, Kia). “Having a company car will remain an important benefit, especially if it’s a good vehicle, loaded with entertainment options, safety measures, and connected technology. Sharing and subscription won’t go mainstream just yet.”

8. Telematics is coming…

The final supplier panel consisted of various tech companies, focusing on the unstoppable advance of telematics – which comes with both challenges and opportunities. “Telematics means management by measurement, with benefits in terms of operational efficiency, cost, and sustainability,” said Fabian Seithel (Associate VP, Geotab).

9. … And it has major implications

Telematics comes with a bunch of privacy concerns, but there’s more. “Tiger Woods recently had an accident in a car that was equipped with a face camera,” said Andrea Amico (CEO, Privacy4Cars). In similar situations, fleet managers will have to decide whether they want their vehicles to become ‘witnesses’ in court cases. Just one of the many far-reaching implications of telematics that needs to be discussed.

10. However, the benefits are huge

Properly managed, AI-powered telematics acts as “a junior fleet manager, who helps with repetitive tasks, and never calls in sick,” said Ovidiu Radu (Chief Technology Information Officer, OviDrive). The best way to get started with telematics, is not to try to do everything at once, but to focus on areas where the greatest gains can be made. “If you’re operating across multiple markets, the obvious choice would be to deploy telematics in the country with the highest accident rate,” suggested Jerry Li (Marketing Director, Streamax). 

Go to the Global Fleet Conference website to watch the Global Fleet Live Sessions and Regional Streams on-demand

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs